Tributes paid to teenager stabbed to death in school uniform in broad daylight

Fares Maatou died at the scene of the attack in Newham. Credit: PA/Metropolitan Police

Tributes have been paid to a 14-year-old boy stabbed to death outside a pizza restaurant in broad daylight in east London.

Fares Maatou died at the scene of the attack in Barking Road, Newham, on Friday afternoon, the Metropolitan Police said.

Two boys aged 14 and 15 have been arrested on suspicion of murder, while another 15-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the incident.

Witnesses said the teenager was wearing his school uniform when he was attacked.

A close friend of Fares described him as a “really nice” person who “loved life”.

The tearful 15-year-old, accompanied by her 33-year-old mother, neither of whom wished to be named, said: “He was really nice. He had nothing to do with the gang stuff around here.

“He would just be there for you. If you ever needed him he would be there.”

Speaking from the scene of the attack, she added: “He was happy. He loved life.”

People place flowers at the scene in Barking where a 14-year-old boy was knifed to death Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

The Metropolitan Police said it was called to the incident shortly before 4pm where the teenager was found with stab injuries.

Despite the efforts of the emergency services he was pronounced dead half an hour later.

The force said officers believe Fares was attacked with “a large bladed item”.

A post-mortem examination is still to take place.

Speaking at the scene of the attack, Detective Chief Inspector Perry Benton said: “Yesterday evening shortly before four o’clock, Fares was coming down Barking Road with a friend where they came across a group of individuals.

“Fares was attacked by at least two males and he received fatal injuries.

“Those responsible have obviously cruelly taken away a much-loved son and much-loved friend from his friends and family.”

A pile of floral tributes and some balloons were placed outside the Zzetta Soul Fired Pizza restaurant on Barking Road.

Flowers left at the scene Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

A member of staff from the restaurant said a FedEx worker, an off-duty police officer and a woman had all rushed to the teenager’s aid as he lay in the street outside the restaurant.

“They were just shouting at him, ‘wake up, wake up, try to breathe’,” the worker, who did not want to be named, said.

“Three or four of us were all shouting loudly, ‘one, two, three’, so there was a rhythm for compression.”

He said the victim, wearing a school uniform, was “totally blacked out”.

“I was hoping he would end up in hospital and stay alive,” the witness added.

He said it was “really bad” when Fares’s family arrived at the scene.

“I haven’t seen anything like this,” he said, adding that the family were “expressing their grief” and “crying”.

He said: “When the doctor announced him dead he broke the news to his sister and she almost collapsed.

“Looking at the family bonding I think he was a really loved one.”

Police handcuffed two young males at the scene of a vigil on Saturday afternoon after a scuffle briefly broke out.

Around 20 minutes later, at least eight police officers arrived at the location, including some in an unmarked BMW.

Officers appeared to search a handful of youths before two males were handcuffed, triggering an angry response from others.

The Met later said it had stopped and searched two males after responding to reports of a fight, but nothing was found and they were not arrested.

Those involved in the incident on Saturday had left prior to police arriving and there were no reports of injuries, the force said.

DCI Benton, of specialist crime, said: “Fares’s family are, of course, absolutely devastated.

“I have assured them of my total commitment to bringing to justice those responsible for this senseless killing. They will be supported by specialist officers at every stage of what will be a terrible ordeal for them in the weeks, months and years ahead.

“We have already seen fantastic support and received a good deal of information from local people.

“I thank them for that, and ask anyone with information or any witnesses who have yet to speak with police to please come forward and tell officers what they know.

“We are piecing together the picture of what happened on Friday afternoon and every fragment of that picture will be crucial.

“Three boys have been arrested and they remain in police custody.

“This is a fast-moving investigation and there will be further developments.”